You hear a lot of buzz in health care these days about “teams” and being a “team player.” Health care organizations are seeking employees who can work collaboratively with their fellow health care professionals – both those above and below them in the hospital hierarchy.

But what does that really mean? In October of last year, members of the Best Practices Innovation Collaborative of the Institute of Medicine’s Roundtable on Value & Science-Driven Health Care published a report that aimed to clarify the issue.

In Core Principles & Values of Effective Team-Based Health Care the authors identified five personal values that describe the most effective members of high-functioning health care teams—

  1. Honesty: Team members value the ability to be transparent in all communications, including those related to aims, decisions, uncertainty, and mistakes. They view honesty as vital to continued improvement and maintaining mutual trust.
  2. Discipline: Team members are capable of getting the job done, even when it may be inconvenient for them to do so; they are committed to seeking out and sharing new information, even when it may be uncomfortable to bring that information up in the group; and they stick to standards and protocols while looking for ways to improve them.
  3. Creativity: Team members get excited about tackling problems and exploring new opportunities; they even view errors and poor outcomes as a chance to learn and improve.
  4. Humility: Team members respect their fellow members and do not believe their training is necessarily better or more valuable than the training of other team members. They recognize that everyone on the team is human and thus will make mistakes, and they value the input from all of the other team members in helping the team avoid failures, regardless of where they are in the hierarchy.
  5. Curiosity: Team members reflect on the lessons learned in the course of providing day-to-day care and use the insights gained from those lessons to work toward continuous improvement of their own work and that of the team.

Those seemingly simple values can go a long way in helping you excel on the job, whether you’re working with other RTs in your own department, rounding with physicians, nurses, or other health care providers, or serving on a multidisciplinary committee.